I’m an enigma. I seem to be emotionally open, and yet I’m afraid to reveal how I feel at times. This has caused me some problems in romantic relationships. On the surface, it seems to be clear how I feel and yet there’s so much more than meets the eye. How do you become truly close with someone when you’re holding back? I wouldn’t even say I’m intentionally holding back. It’s a habit that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. My brain is a sanctuary and I reveal pieces of information over time. With friends, I am more open. In a romantic relationship, I tend to focus on the other person more than myself. I don’t know if that’s healthy or not, but it happens.

I suppose in long-term relationships there needs to be a balance. You focus on each other and the goal is to serve the other person’s emotional needs. Not in a co-dependent way, but in a loving way. In healthy relationships there is reciprocity. I realized that one of my mistakes in romantic relationships is to give “too much” and then become resentful when that wasn’t returned or reciprocated. Maybe that’s my fault. Perhaps the trouble is expecting things from people that they can’t actually give me. I’ve been told that when you can’t get what you need from someone else, it’s time to look inward and get that love from yourself. I do believe there’s some truth to this concept, but I also find it problematic in some ways.

Self-love is great and all, but I love to be loved. There’s nothing like feeling totally and completely cared about. When your needs are seen as important or valuable that makes you feel good. You can value yourself and also respect and value others. They are not mutually exclusive concepts. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to be loved. It’s a human emotion after all. There’s so much stress in our society about loving yourself before others. But what if you could do both? What if in loving something else, you begin to love yourself at the same time? I think that’s possible. It’s not easy to love yourself. It’s easy for people to say that to one another. “Love yourself,” or “you’re great!” In reality, it isn’t that simple. If it was, everyone would love themselves.

I believe that romantic relationships can actually teach us how to love ourselves. When you are in love with someone, you are the best version of yourself. You learn who that person is by seeing yourself through your partner’s eyes. When someone loves you, they bring out the best in you. They see the things that you don’t necessarily┬ánotice about yourself and they magnify them. Who wouldn’t feel good about themselves after experiencing that? That sounds fucking fantastic to me.

What about you? Do you love to be in love? Are you open about your feelings? How do you show love when you’re in a romantic relationship?